Philosophical discussion was a campus priority Oct. 16 with the first inaugural Carus Lecture.

The Carus Lectureship was created in recognition of the funds given by Alwin C. Carus and M. Elizabeth Carus to the college.

Dr. Jonathan Lear of the University of Chicago presented the talk “To Become Human Does Not Come That Easily,” which pushed the importance of thinking critically about societal roles.

“I wanted to speak to you students about being students,” Lear said as he introduced his lecture.

His talk focused on bringing existentialism to the forefront of the minds of audience members. Existentialism is the study of human beings freely determining the best life for themselves.

This discussion does not need to limit itself to philosophy students, according to Susan O’Shaughnessy, philosophy professor and faculty organizer of the event.

“Philosophy engages everyday questions, but it engages them in a profoundly new way,” she said.

Lear did just that, according to O’Shaughnessy.

The lecture revolved around identity within certain roles, primarily through the example of the philosophical idea of the student.

This included understanding the student not as someone who merely shows up to class, but as a person continuously engaged in learning.

“How can I be open to the world to learn what the world has to teach me?” Lear said.

This focus made broad philosophical concepts more concrete in the minds of the audience, according to Erica Standal, a philosophy minor who attended the lecture.

Standal said philosophical discussion in a general sense is not only approachable to a wide audience, but that it is also important for all people to think philosophically.

“Some people have a false concept that philosophy is an untouchable subject, but it’s not,” Standal said. “Reflecting on life is important. It helps to make sure you’re not just going through the motions.”

The Carus family has posthumously given funds to philosophy departments around the country.

This newfound lecture series at Concordia promotes philosophy and philosophy’s position within the liberal arts, O’Shaughnessy said, as it brings people from all areas together in discussion.

The audience of roughly 350 was composed not only of Concordia students, faculty and staff, but also of Fargo-Moorhead community members; NDSU and MSUM students; and students from Davies High School in Fargo.

This demographic should set aside time for philosophical discussion, according to O’Shaughnessy.

“For people living in the middle or upper class in the US, life is pretty hectic. We need to stop for a minute and think about what we’re doing — if it’s good for us and good for others,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Still, the real world does not always stop for philosophical discussion.

In the middle of the lecture, Lear’s cell phone went off. He took the call, explaining that it was his young son calling to wish him a good night.

As he ended the call and pocketed his phone, Lear used the moment to return to the question of the night.

“What is it to be a dad?” he mused.

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Emma Connell

Class of 2014 at Concordia College. Majoring in Political Science and Philosophy. Involved in Student Government and, of course, The Concordian.

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